You’re making me dizzy. So many great points to respond to! But, I have to start here:
Andrew said: “the cinephile label is what separates writers and commenters on mubi.com from those at movies.com.”
Funny you brought that up because I used to make a living as a writer for movies.com! (Back when it was owned by Disney.) Clearly, movies.com wasn’t and isn’t made for cinephiles, but I just need to say that if I ever knew a dude who I thought was a cinephile, it would be reviewer Dave White, who still writes there.
But that also leads into Frances’ excellent points about the importance for “slow” film criticism to exist. (Someone needs to mock up a street sign: SLOW! CINEPHILES WRITING!)[done!-ed]. The Internet really has gone from mostly a place where one could find great, detailed, obscure information to a marketplace where everybody has to be up on every late-breaking-oh-my-god-this-is-so-important piece of minutiae that zips by at supersonic speeds. Continue reading →
In response to Andrew, a few thoughts on oversaturation. I think we all share those concerns. Again, it’s a conversation that’s frequently had in music criticism, in particular with regard to our knowledge of marginal or ‘lost’ music, as well as our instant access to what’s new – I haven’t read it yet but I think this is be explored at some length in Simon Reynolds’s new Retromania book. The problem is, of course, that we discuss it on the one hand while downloading with the other; concern and action don’t always mesh.
‘Slow criticism’ is one solution, in as much as I understand it – I’d like to hear more from the panel on this, if they have thoughts, because for me it’s a little confused with the idea of ‘slow cinema’ (which doesn’t necessarily have to be subject to slow criticism?). Certainly the pressure to be ‘first’ with an opinion, to show that you’re more abreast of a particular argument than others, seems more pressing – but I wonder if criticism has always been thus, it’s just that the audience – and our relationship with them – has grown and fragmented. As someone who only began a critical career in the 2000s, I realise that I have no idea really what a pre-Internet critical environment was like! Continue reading →
Yeah, if I had to, I’d call myself a “fan” over a “cinephile.”
(An aside: Does it mean anything when my spell-checker doesn’t even recognize the word “cinephile” and wants me to replace it with “acidophiles”?)
Like yourself and Neil, I meandered into this world of writing about film on the Internet. I never wanted to nor planned to write about film. My background is in film production and pre-Internet comic book zine publishing. As far as the comic scene in those days went, “fandom” was a positive, fun word and concept to throw around. Us fans banded together to publish each other’s articles in our self-published, photocopied zines to share ideas, history and our own amateur comics. Fandom meant togetherness in a world that didn’t appreciate our obsession. Continue reading →
I’m going to dive into the middle of Neil’s great opening statement before I have a nibble at the edges. ‘Personally speaking, I’m interested in how modern cinephilia overlaps with the business of making a living from film – making them, writing about them, programming them’, he says, and I agree. Perhaps one of the reasons the notion of cinephilia is being debated is to do with this particular question, but it’s hard to talk about business and making livings in relation to this art form that we love, and easier, perhaps, to talk about why and how we love it. Continue reading →
This essay draws from two previously published pieces: “The 21st Century Cinephile” (which appeared in the Dutch film magazine De Filmkrant in February 2011) and “Mediators” (published on the blog, girish).
Cinephilia is enjoying a wonderful, global resurgence. Not that it ever disappeared: cinephilia has been around almost since the birth of the medium. When we in the West trace its history, we tend to locate its first distinct and unified incarnation in France in the ‘20s. Louis Delluc and Jean Epstein are the key figures we associate with this historical moment. The next great flowering of cinephilia occurs during the ‘50s, also in France, in the decade preceding the Nouvelle Vague.
But before we continue with this story, it is important to ask: Who is a “cinephile”? What sets a cinephile apart from any other person who loves films? Yes, both likely enjoy watching films in good numbers. But beyond that, I would draw a line and assert: cinephilia involves an active interest in the discourse surrounding films. Not just watching but also thinking, reading, talking, and writing about films in some form, no matter how non-standard: these activities are important to the cinephile. Continue reading →
As I was brooding over what I could come up with to do justice to Damon Smith and Kate Taylor’s invitation to write about contemporary film criticism and cinephilia, a friend who had no idea I was pondering this problem sent me an answer to it. The answer took the form of a link to a new piece by David Bordwell on the Film Comment web site, called “Academics vs. Critics: Never the Twain Shall Meet: Why Can’t Cinephiles and Academics Just Get Along?,” in which, with his usual clarity, Bordwell proposes his view of the current configuration of approaches to writing on film. I have no desire to enter into a battle with Bordwell and no intention of raising larger issues about his work in general. I want only to use the opportunity afforded by this particular text of his to set forth, by contrast, my own views on the current situation of film criticism, cinephilia, and academic film studies. Continue reading →
Welcome to “Project: New Cinephilia,” a cross-platform initiative of the Edinburgh International Film Festival open to critics, students, curators, archivists, filmmakers, film-industry professionals, publishers, educators, movie lovers, and the film-curious public. In the weeks ahead, we will publish original essays, roundtable discussions, and film-related artworks by a roster of international contributors. Today, we are proud to debut the official P:NC website, co-published and powered by our friends at MUBI, who will host P:NC-related discussion in their Forums.
When festival director James Mullighan phoned in late December and asked if we would co-curate a symposium on film criticism for the upcoming Edinburgh International Film Festival, we were honoured to accept. He then suggested that we rethink the ossified formats of such symposia—keynote speeches and panel talks—and imagine what could be done differently. How could we create something people would want to be part of, something that would draw the interest of critics and filmmakers and have an educational component as well? We welcomed that idea, and talked through some possibilities. “I want you to reinvent the whole idea of such a conference,” he told us, invoking the iconoclastic spirit that has historically defined the Edinburgh Festival. “Break all the rules.” It was in this hugely ambitious context that the seeds of “Project: New Cinephilia” were sown. Whether we succeed or not depends largely on you—our audience—whom we hope to thoroughly engage throughout the coming weeks. Continue reading →